This page created 6 April 2014, and last modified: 22 June 2014 (commentary about Legio I Iovia added)
In the eastern half of the empire, the third out of six units of legiones palatina under the command of the second Master of the Soldiers in the Imperial Presence is called the Scythae. Its shield pattern as shown in various manuscripts is as below:
The unit may well derive from Legio IIII Scythica, founded by Marcus Antonius in the dying years of the Republic, and which was long stationed at Zeugma in Commagene on the Euphrates (now partially under the waters behind the Birecik Dam in Turkey); the legion appears under the Dux Syriae et Eufratensis Syriae in Notitia, but now stationed at "Oresa".
The shield pattern of the Scythae is somewhat (but not closely) similar to that of two other units: that of the Daci, the next-higher ranking unit under the same command, and the Balistarii iuniores, under the Magister Militum per Thracias; you can see the patterns as taken from the Paris manuscript below for comparison:
Either of these units could support a "relationship" with the Scythae: the Daci as an habitually-brigaded unit, and the Balistarii iuniores as previously brigaded unit or else a permanent detachment of the old legion's artillery. Perhaps both could be supported; but since the patterns are not really that close, they may both just be coincidentally similar.
However, the names Scythae and Daci, being the names of neighbouring provinces, suggest an alternative derivation. Epigraphic evidence (see The Tetrarchic Reorganization of the Limes Scythicus, Mihail Zahariade; The Lower Danube in Antiquity, International Archaeological Conference, Bulgaria-Tutrakan 6-7.10.2005; Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, National Institute of Archaeology and Museum, Sofia, 2006; p 1-12, available here) shows that Legio I Iovia under the command of the Dux Scythiae was called more properly Legio I Iovia Scythica, and thus might instead be the progenitor of the Scythae; the Daci would then likely come from a neighbouring unit stationed in Dacia, under the Dux Daciae ripensis, perhaps Legio V Macedonica or Legio XIII Gemina.
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